For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – A major citizen security conference organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of State and the Organization of American States (OAS) concluded that governments, citizens and businesses must work together to strengthen communities and combat crime in the Americas.
Entitled “Successful Models and Approaches on Youth Development and Crime Prevention,” the conference was held today at OAS headquarters in Washington and inaugurated by José Miguel Insulza, OAS Secretary General; Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; and Mark Feierstein, USAID Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean. The three principals called for greater emphasis on programs that target youth and address social and economic influences on crime and violence.
“Crime, drug trafficking, and violence are a threat to democracy, rule of law and economic development in the Americas,” Insulza said. “And the region's young people, one in three of whom neither works nor studies, are the most vulnerable to the lure of crime. We need to better coordinate our different prevention programs to ensure the best results for our young people.”
Valenzuela added that “collectively, all governments and societies need to transform the negative image of youth as generators of violence to a positive image of youth as agents for peace and development. We must help young people become productive members of society who value democracy, freedom, equality, rule of law, and entrepreneurship,” he said.
Participants analyzed and discussed community policing projects in the United States, Brazil, Jamaica and Guatemala; juvenile justice reforms in Afghanistan, Spain and the Caribbean; and innovative public-private partnerships for youth development.
The U.S. Government already partners with Latin American and Caribbean Governments to provide at-risk youth with alternatives to crime through USAID's Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).
“We know that more money isn't the only answer to reaching youth and getting at the root causes of crime and violence,” Feierstein said. “We also need to invest our resources wisely. Meetings like these allow us to hear directly from implementers, policy makers and beneficiaries about what's working, what isn't and how we can do better.”
Today's conference in Washington follows the OAS General Assembly on Citizen Security in El Salvador and the Central American Security Conference (SICA) in Guatemala last week. A comprehensive report on today's conference is being compiled and will be posted on www.usaid.gov at a later date.
Last updated: February 21, 2014